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Bonfire Commission would solve problem

 

We need sensible leadership from unionist leaders now over bonfires or the unionist community will walk into the same mess it faced over marching.

Anyone over 30 remembers the years of Drumcree riots, where young Protestants were led into the arms of Satan by those who told them that marching a traditional route was a right worth fighting for.

Some politicians built their careers by talking tough over marching; eventually this led to the unwelcome Parades Commission.

Now the same political leaders are boasting that this was the most peaceful Twelfth in many years while conveniently ignoring the fact that it was peaceful because our parades kept to the decisions agreed with the Parades Commission.

The same pattern is being repeated over bonfires. DUP MLAs rush to condemn Belfast Council for implementing the rules relating to funding of parties in Sandy Row - funding was withdrawn because the bonfire broke the rules and the DUP clearly felt there should be no penalty. By contrast when the Sandy Row bonfire caused significant damage to a number of flats, the only advice the DUP MP seems to want to offer residents is that they should claim on their insurance. (Why should these residents face higher insurance premiums because of a failure by those in charge?)

Unless this issue is resolved before next summer, there is no alternative other than for people to start campaigning for a Bonfires Commission to mirror the work of the Parades Commission.

The rules could be very simple; any bonfire over 8ft tall needs to be registered with the Bonfire Commission and have a certificate from the Fire Brigade indicating it is located appropriately, with smaller local bonfires being dealt with as currently. No doubt there will be howls of protest from politicians desperate for votes, but once they realise that ordinary unionist people like myself will support this change the politicians will follow the people.

BELFAST UNIONIST

Belfast Telegraph

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